We always know we’re getting close to hockey season when the rookies step on the ice and try to make a good impression on Vegas Golden Knights management.
The Golden Knights have always tried to gauge the progress of their young players, be they draft picks or free agents by having them square off against another team’s rookies.
This year, the Knights are competing in the Arizona Coyotes Rookie Faceoff Tournament which runs from Friday, Sept. 17 through Monday, Sept. 20. Joining the Coyotes and the Vegas Golden Knights will be the Los Angeles Kings, Colorado Avalanche, San Jose Sharks, and Anaheim Ducks.
Vegas will play the Coyotes at Gila River Arena on the 17th, the Sharks at the Ice Den in Scottsdale, Ariz., on the 19th and the Kings, also in Scottsdale, on the 20th.
The Knights’ rookie camp roster is tentatively set to include the following players:
Forwards: Jakub Brabenec, Daniel D’Amato, Zach Dean, Jakub Demek, Pavel Dorofeyev, Jack Dugan, Jacob Gaucher, Marcus Kallionkieli, Peyton Krebs, Jermain Loewen, Maxim Marushev, Lynden McCallum, Kaleb Pearson, Mason Primeau.
Defensemen: Layton Ahac, Daniil Chayka, Arthur Cholach, Connor Corcoran, Lukas Cormier, Peter DeLiberatore, Zach Hayes, Kaedan Korczak, Mark Lajoie, Adam McCormick.
Goaltenders: Carl Lindbom, Jiri Patera, Jesper Vikman.
Of the players expected to compete, most eyes will be on forward Peyton Krebs and defenseman Kaedan Korczak. The two were teammates on Canada’s National Junior Team in 2020 and both saw time in the AHL with the Henderson Silver Knights until Krebs fractured his jaw just prior to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and was sidelined for the postseason for both Vegas and Henderson.
The reality is the Vegas Golden Knights roster is virtually set. Krebs and Korczak are expected to be part of the NHL training camp and both should get a long look during the preseason, which kicks off Sept. 26 vs. the San Jose Sharks.
They may wind up starting the season in Henderson come October. But should someone get hurt in the preseason, it may open up an opportunity for one of them. Already, there may be a spot for Krebs to compete for as forward Alex Tuch will not be available as he recovers from shoulder surgery and may not be ready until December or January. He has skated with the Golden Knights the last two years in the postseason so he has an understanding of the accelerated pace of play in the NHL.
Korczak could be an option for the seventh defenseman’s spot as Dylan Coghlan, saw time in that role last year. Coghlan played in 29 games with the Golden Knights and had three goals and three assists.
For the remainder of the rookies, this will be like an extended Silver Knights training camp. Some may even wind up in Fort Wayne, the Golden Knights’ ECHL affiliate. It will be a chance for Tim Speltz, the new Henderson general manager who was named to the position on Aug. 31, and second-year head coach Manny Viveiros, to get some quality evaluation time of many of the players who will likely skate for the Silver Knights this year.
In 2018, the Golden Knights hosted a rookie tournament. The following year, Anaheim played host. Last year, there was no rookie event due to the coronavirus pandemic. So players, coaches and management are excited about making the trip to Arizona next week and even though they may have to mask up inside the rinks, it’ll feel closer to normal.
These games are important for all the participating teams as their hockey people try to get a line on the participants, so you can expect the intensity level to be high as players try to make a good impression and get some leverage for themselves when the NHL veteran camps open in a couple weeks.